With its seemingly endless coastline, crystal clear water and warm weather year-round, Florida has been attracting people like a magnet for generations. Given its long history as a tourist mecca, it stands to reason that the Sunshine State has some of the most amazing historic hotels in America. From a shimmering pink castle on St. Pete Beach to Art Deco masterpieces on Miami Beach, Florida’s historic hotels continue to dazzle new generations of fans of majestic hotels with a long and colorful past.
The Fountainbleau Miami Beach continues to make history as the most famous hotel at one of America’s most desirable locations. Situated on 20 acres in the heart of Millionaire’s Row, the Fountainbleau completed a stunning $1 billion makeover in 2008 that expanded total guestrooms to 1,504 and reconfirmed its long-time standing as one of the nation’s most luxurious resorts. It originally opened in 1954 with 554 rooms, making it the largest hotel in Miami Beach. Designed by noted architect Morris Lapidus, the Fountainbleau in 2012 was named the “Top Building in Florida” by the American Institute of Architects for its distinctive curved façade facing the Atlantic Ocean. The original hotel tower featured a 17,000-square-foot lobby with bowtie marble floor and the famous two-story “staircase to nowhere.” The elevated, 6,500-square-foot pool was the setting for a memorable scene in the James Bond classic, “Goldfinger.” Today’s Fountainbleau features a 40,000-square-foot spa.
The Loews Don Cesar has been a Gulf Coast icon since it opened in 1928. The landmark pink castle on St. Pete Beach showcases Mediterranean and Moorish architecture with balconies and terraces lining the 10-story masterpiece. Named for Don Ce-Sar in Vincent Wallace’s opera Maritana, it has been the playground for the famous including Clarence Darrow and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1942, it was purchased by the U.S. Army to serve as a sub-base hospital and convalescent center for airmen returning from WW II. It didn’t reopen as a hotel until 1973, when it regained its status among Florida’s elite resort hotels. Its unique design has served as the backdrop of two notable movies—“Once Upon a Time in America” (Robert De Niro and James Woods) and “Forever Mine” (Ray Liotta, Ralph Fiennes). Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the 277-room hotel recently completed an extensive renovation.
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